25 Years of Iconic Berrett-Koehler Books

A 10 - F
  • January 1, 2018

The past 25 years have seen major shifts in leadership, management, politics, and how we understand and work towards self-improvement. With the help of our authors and community, BK has been at the forefront of these developments! 

For example, stewardship, a concept about dissolving hierarchal management styles and redistributing power equitably in organizations, was the name and subject of our author Peter Block's bestselling book from 1993. Top tier media outlets like Inc.com still publish articles about the subject, with reminders that even large business like Patagonia practice stewardship in their initiatives.

Servant leadership is another non-hierarchal business concept, where leaders prioritize the needs of their team and the company as a whole, practicing humility and collaboration instead of didactic, top-down management. We published a book about it in 1998, and since then you can find the practice discussed and implemented widely in business. From massive online training summits, to frequent posts in the Harvard Business Review and the New York Times, the growth and sustained relevance of servant leadership is yet another example of Berrett-Koehler's trailblazing presence as a content provider!

Here's a year-by-year list of the most iconic, world-changing books Berrett-Koehler has published in its 25 year history. It'll give you a more detailed picture of the continuing contributions we make to create a better world for all. 

1992: Leadership and the New Science


The book that started it all! Few books published in the last 20 years have been more influential than Leadership and the New Science. It has profoundly altered people’s understanding around the world of how organizations and leadership work, including the dynamics of order and change, control and participation, structure and chaos, planning and innovation, and much more. With over 390,000 copies sold, it has deeply influenced the work of thousands of other business and management writers, scholars, and practitioners, who have incorporated its ideas into their programs, interventions, strategies, and curricula. 


1993: Stewardship


Peter Block's Stewardship was a groundbreaking book when the first edition was published in 1992, and with over 190,000 copies sold, it remains as relevant and radical today as it was then. We still face the challenge of fostering ownership and accountability throughout our organizations. Peter Block insists that what is required for change is a dramatic shift in how we distribute power, privilege, and the control of money. "Stewardship," he writes, "means giving people at the bottom and the boundaries of the organization choice over how to serve a customer, a citizen, a community. It is the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us."

1994: A Peacock in the Land of Penguins

peacock-in-a-land-of-penguins_3D-cover-mockup.pngBJ Gallagher's A Peacock in the Land of Penguins continues to  bring keen insight to an important topic - workforce diversity. Through the story of Perry  the Peacock and his fine feathered friends, authors Gallagher and  Schmidt bring to life the challenges of birds of different feathers  who struggle to be successful in the conformity-minded Land of  Penguins. Their travails show the challenges of creating a  pluralistic corporate culture where the talent, energy, and  commitment  of all employees are fully engaged. The 20th anniversary edition released in 2015 includes new tips, tools, and strategies for peacocks and penguins alike, as well as an entirely new bonus parable. Over 380,000 copies sold.

1995: When Corporations Rule the World

when-corporations-rule-the-world_3D-cover-mockup.png A handful of corporations and financial institutions command an ever-greater concentration of economic and political power in an assault against markets, democracy, and life. It's a “suicide economy,” says David Korten, that destroys the very foundations of its own existence. The bestselling 1995 edition of When Corporations Rule the World helped launch a global resistance against corporate domination. Released in 2015, the twentieth-anniversary edition has a new introduction documenting the further concentration of wealth and corporate power and explores why our institutions resolutely resist even modest reform, and a new conclusion chapter outlines high-leverage opportunities for breakthrough change. Over 150,000 copies sold. 


1996: Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute 

Empowerment-takes-more-than-a-minute_3D-cover-mockup.pngEmpowerment Takes More Than a Minute is the one of the most effective business fables ever written. The best selling management book (over 400,000 copies sold) by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos, and Alan Randolph, shows how releasing employees' full potential and instilling a responsibility-oriented culture remains the best way to compete in a "do more with less" business climate. The 2001 edition illustrates three simple (although not easy-to-achieve) keys that organizations can use to effectively tap into the knowledge, experience, and motivation power that people already have.

1997: The Power of Purpose

Power-of-purpose3D-cover-mockup.pngUpdated with brand new edition in 2015, Richard J. Leider's The Power of Purpose has sold over 200,000 copies. It provides a detailed and practical process for uncovering your purpose. Legendary personal coach Richard Leider shows that purpose gives us the will not just to live but to live long and well. The good news is, purpose isn’t a luxury reserved for a gifted few but something each one of us already possesses.



1998: The Power of Servant Leadership

Power-of-servant-leadership_3D-cover-mockup.pngThe Power of Servant Leadership is a collection of nine compelling essays on servant-leadership by Robert Greenleaf, the founder of the modern Servant Leadership Movement. Greenleaf, who coined the term 'servant leadership' over 30 years ago, provides some of his best insights into its nature and  practice, and shows his continual refinement of the servant-as-leader concept in this compilation edited by Larry Spears. With 20,000 attending the Servant Leadership Online Training Summit this year, it's clear servant leadership is alive and well! 



1999: Love 'Em or Lose 'Em

love-em-or-lose-em3D-cover-mockup.pngThe 5th(!) edition of this bestselling classic from Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans was released in 2014. It was true in 1999, and it's true today: retention is one of the costliest and most important issues businesses face. Employees who walk out the door cost their companies up to 200 percent of their annual salaries to replace. And with so many surveys reporting that employees are unhappy and not working up to their full potential, engagement is a second serious and costly issue. With over 700,000 copies sold, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em takes the bull by the horns, offering 26 strategies for busy managers to get good people to stay.

2000: Leadership and Self-Deception

Leadership-and-Self-deception3D-cover-mockup.pngSince its original publication in 2000, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon. With nearly 2 million copies sold, the book’s popularity has gone global, with editions now available in over thirty languages. Through a story everyone can relate to about a man facing challenges on the job and in his family, the authors expose the fascinating ways that we can blind ourselves to our true motivations and unwittingly sabotage the effectiveness of our own efforts to achieve success and increase happiness. With a new edition released in 2010, book shows how to consistently tap into an innate ability that dramatically improves both your results and your relationships.


2001: Eat That Frog!


There's old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you're done with the worst thing you'll have to do all day. For Brian Tracy, eating a frog is a metaphor for tackling your most challenging task—but also the one that can have the greatest positive impact on your life. His bestselling classic Eat That Frog! is a procrastination-curing phenomenon. First released in 2001, it has gone on to sell over 1.9 million copies. It was updated with a third edition in 2017, as well as a workbook, card deck, and video training course.

2002: The Inclusion Breakthrough


Constant, cataclysmic change is causing a major crisis within business organizations today. Faced with constantly advancing technology, unpredictable market shifts, intense global competition, and an increasingly independent "free agent" workforce, the only way for an organization to adapt and succeed is to build a "culture of inclusion" that nurtures and draws on the talents of a diverse workforce. But most organizational change efforts are a waste of time, money, and human effort. Frederick Miller and Judith Katz's book cuts a path through this potential minefield of inclusion, offering a proven methodology for strategic organizational change.The Inclusion Breakthrough remains relevant, with inclusion regularly popping up as a central workplace concern.


2003: Positive Organizational Scholarship

Positive-organizational-scholarship_3D-cover-mockup.pngWritten by respected positive leadership scholars Kim Kameron, Jane Dutton, and Robert Quinn, Positive Organizational Scholarship established a new field of study in the organizational sciences. Just as positive psychology focuses on exploring optimal individual psychological states rather than pathological ones, Positive Organizational Scholarship focuses attention on optimal organizational states -- the dynamics in organizations that lead to the development of human strength, foster resiliency in employees, make healing, restoration, and reconciliation possible, and cultivate extraordinary individual and organizational performance.

2004: Confessions of an Economic Hitman

Confessions-of-an-economic-hitman3D-cover-mockup.pngThe 2004 edition of this shocking expose from John Perkins spent 73 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, selling over 1.25 million copies. Featuring 15 explosive new chapters, the 2016 edition brings the story of the economic hit men up to date.  Perkins shares new details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars, how the problem is worse than ever before, and an insider view of what we each can do to change it. 




2005: The World Cafe

world-cafe_3D-cover-mockup.pngThe World Cafe, a bestseller that sold over 75,000 copies, introduces readers to a simple, yet powerful conversational process for thinking together and creating actionable knowledge that has been used successfully with organizations and communities on six continents. The book articulates seven key World Café design principles that create the conditions for accessing collective intelligence and breakthrough thinking, and gives real world examples.


2006: Values-Driven Business

Values-Driven-business_3D-cover-mockup.pngIn Values-Driven Business, Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen and Social Venture Network chair Mal Warwick team up to provide you with a way to run your business for profit and personal satisfaction. This practical, down-to-earth book details every step in the process of creating and managing a business that will reflect your personal values, not force you to hide them. It includes a self-assessment tool,  hundreds of examples, and practical checklists to start a values-based organization.


2007: Get There Early


Bob Johansen shares techniques refined over nearly forty years by the Institute of the Future to help you navigate your own organization's road to the future. Through examples —including the Toyota Prius, the iPod, and many more—he shows that getting there early means finding new markets, new customers, and new products ahead of your competitors. Get There Early lays out the Institute's three-step Foresight to Insight to Action Cycle that allows you to sense, make sense of, and win when faced with dilemmas. Over 25,000 copies sold.

2008:The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

Five-Secrets_3D-cover-mockup copy.pngDr. John Izzo and his colleagues interviewed over 200 people over the age of sixty who were identified by others as having lived happy lives with purpose and contentment. The interviewees ranged from aboriginal elders to town barbers, from Holocaust survivors to former CEO's. In these interviews, each person was asked to reflect back on his or her life to identify the sources of happiness and meaning as well as lessons learned, regrets, major crossroads, and what did not contribute to meaning in their lives. With more than 250,000 copies sold, the book explores the secrets to finding contentment, happiness, and purpose.


2009: Trauma Stewardship

Trauma-stewardship_3D-cover-mockup.pngLaura van Dernoot Lipsky takes a deep and sympathetic look at the many ways the stress of dealing with trauma manifests itself: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, diminished creativity, chronic exhaustion, cynicism, and a dozen more.  Lipsky's book offers help through a variety of simple and profound practices, drawn from modern psychology and a range of spiritual traditions, that enable us to look carefully at our reactions and motivations and discover new sources of energy and renewal. She includes interviews with successful trauma stewards from different walks of life and even uses New Yorker cartoons to illustrate her points. Over 100,000 copies sold.


2010: Networking for People Who Hate Networking


This book shatters stereotypes about people who dislike networking. They're not shy or misanthropic. Rather, they tend to be reflective-they think before they talk. They focus on a few things rather than broadly on a lot of things. And they need time alone to recharge. Because they've been told networking is all small talk, big numbers and constant contact, they assume it's not for them. But it is! Author Devora Zack politely examines and then smashes the "dusty old rules" of standard networking advice. She shows how the very traits that ordinarily make people networking-averse can be for an approach that is just as effective as more traditional approaches, if not better. Over 110,000 copies sold. 


2011: I Moved Your Cheese


I-moved-your-cheese_D-cover-mockup.pngI Moved Your Cheese was the first serious challenge to the best-seller Who Moved My Cheese? Harvard Business School professor and bestselling author Deepak Malhotra tells an inspiring story about a new generation of mice who begin to challenge assumptions and ask important questions. Rather than just accepting their situation and dutifully chasing the cheese, Max, Zed, and Big begin looking deeper, examining and reassessing what theyve been told are their limitations, and set out to chart a new course. Over 175,000 copies sold.


2012: What To Do When There's Too Much To Do

What-to-Do-When-There's-Too-Much-to-Do_3D-cover-mockup.pngProductivity expert Laura Stack shows how to separate the productive wheat from the nonproductive chaff to hone in on the high-value tasks, protect the time to do them, and focus on their execution. Throughout this book, readers will learn how to scale back; reduce, reduce, reduce is Stack's mantra. Stack offers dozens of ways to shrink your to-do list, calendar commitments, distractions, interruptions, information overload, inefficiencies, and energy expenditures. Each reduction will increase your results and save you time. Over 60,000 copies sold!


2013: Humble Inquiry

Humble-inquiry_3D-cover-mockup.pngIn this seminal work, author Edgar Schein explores the various types of humility, contrasts Humble Inquiry with other kinds of inquiry, shows the benefits Humble Inquiry offers in many different settings, and offers advice on overcoming the cultural, organizational, and psychological barriers that keep us from practicing it. With over 120,000 copies sold, this is a major new contribution to how we see human dynamics and relationships, presented in a compact, personal, and eminently practical way. Over 60,000+ copies sold.

2014: How The Poor Can Save Capitalism


The poor have simply been abandoned, author John Hope Bryant writes. Business loans, home loans, and financial investments have vanished from their communities. After decades of deprivation they lack bank accounts, decent credit scores, and any real firsthand experience of how a healthy free enterprise system functions. Bryant's book, which sold over 40,000 copies to date, exposes the historical roots of this situation, why the solutions tried so far have proved insufficient, and how to move forward. He lays out what he calls a Marshall Plan for our times, a series of straightforward, actionable steps to build financial literacy and expand opportunity.



2015: The Sisters Are Alright


What is wrong with black women? Not a damned thing but the biased lens most people use to view them, says author Tamara Winfrey Harris. The Sisters Are Alright delves into areas such as marriage, motherhood, health, sexuality, beauty, and more. And using progressive author analysis brought to life by the stories of real women, it reveals the effects of anti–black woman propaganda and how real black women are living their lives and pushing back against distorted cartoon versions of themselves. 



2016: Overcoming Bias

Overcoming-Bias-3D-cover-mockup.pngOvercoming Bias explores how we all harbor unconscious assumptions that can get in the way of our good intentions and keep us from building authentic relationships with people different from ourselves. Authors Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman use vivid stories and fun (yes, fun!) exercises and activities to help readers reflect on their personal experiences and uncover how hidden biases are formed. By becoming more self-aware, you can change knee-jerk reactions, conquer fears of the unknown, and prevail over closed-mindedness. With an ever-evolving workplace, this book is crucial to building a safe and open environment for any organization.



2017: Tell Me About Yourself


Sometimes you get only one chance. A good introduction can create connections and open doors. Tell Me About Yourself pairs interviews and case studies with a simple, scalable framework, helping you craft and deliver comprehensive, compelling, and generally kick-ass introductions and personal stories for yourself, your team, or your company. In an ever-changing innovation economy and a climate that demands we put our best foot forward to create change, there's no better time to learn how to articulate your usefulness to the world.



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